Learning to See

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Macrology
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Sat Oct 11, 2014 12:15 am

Image

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Constantine Manos. Greece. Athens. Girl on Ermou Street. September 2003.

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On documentary vs artistic photography

When discussing the art of photography, and especially documentary photography, one must consider the division between art and documentation, between reportage and aesthetics. Both have value, and while they can be fused, one often diminishes the other: aesthetics tend to cloud the necessary immediacy of journalism, and the frankness of documentary photography often excludes or limits aesthetic considerations. Also, photojournalism often benefits from accumulation, in the sense that a series of photographs broadens one's knowledge. In culling photographs for this project, I've tended to focus on aesthetics and on individual photographs (with a few exceptions), and I don't mean to devalue photojournalism. I think its value is largely self-evident, and I'm exploring something more evasive and intangible. Still, whenever possible I've picked out photographs that act as both document and commentary, that capture something iconic or abstract, and that evoke both emotions and ideas through the perspectives they provide.

(This holds particularly true for Magnum photographers like Manos here and war photographers like Capa, who must strike a balance between documenting what they see -- both as a journalistic and historical document -- and evoking various emotions by their choice of lensing and perspective.)

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Re: Learning to See

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:36 am

Macrology wrote:It reminds me of a film, but for the life of me I cannot remember which one. I think it's the ending of the film. Someone is leaving New York by way of ferry, and the camera lingers on the city dropping into the distance, and I believe a gull or two fly through the frame for a while. I want to say it's a documentary, or something shot documentary-style, but I could be fabricating this entirely.
Image

News from Home, Chantal Akerman
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:38 am

Also, I love that Manos above. Wow.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Sat Oct 11, 2014 3:19 am

Nailed it, Maiden. News from Home is exactly what I was thinking of.

Regarding the Manos: The girl passing by resembles the face on the wall just enough to give the photograph a surreal intensity. As if some magazine-perfect vision of herself looms over her.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Gort » Sat Oct 11, 2014 11:26 am

Those are interesting thoughts about documentary vs. artistic photography.

It occurred to me during an industrial video shoot once, long ago, that the line between the two is actually more blurred than I had thought before. Even though documentary photography can be candid, it doesn't have to be. And when one sets up artistic photography (maybe minus Photoshopping, which didn't exist yet when I first had this thought) he/she is documenting something even though the thing documented is contrived.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Kayden Kross » Sat Oct 11, 2014 4:58 pm

I like the colours in that, her shirt matches the lips.

I wonder what she's holding.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sat Oct 11, 2014 7:07 pm

Macrology wrote:Regarding the Manos: The girl passing by resembles the face on the wall just enough to give the photograph a surreal intensity. As if some magazine-perfect vision of herself looms over her.
Yeah, that's what I thought. It's the same nose! Plus, the colors, as Kayden said. It's one of those pictures I can get lost in.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Sat Oct 11, 2014 7:58 pm

Gort wrote:Those are interesting thoughts about documentary vs. artistic photography.

It occurred to me during an industrial video shoot once, long ago, that the line between the two is actually more blurred than I had thought before. Even though documentary photography can be candid, it doesn't have to be. And when one sets up artistic photography (maybe minus Photoshopping, which didn't exist yet when I first had this thought) he/she is documenting something even though the thing documented is contrived.
Absolutely. As Resnais (I think) once said, "Every film is a documentary of its own making."

Speaking of documentaries, I watched Finding Vivian Maier last night. An interesting film made interesting, in part, by its various flaws.

I like how it builds an ambiguous portrait of her, juxtaposing interviews with contradictory perspectives, building a portrait out of fragments, some of which reveal highly divergent qualities.

The film is more compelling when it balances the mystery of the woman with the discovery and impact of her work, because the enigma of the woman alone can't support the weight of the film, particularly in the closing third which relies so heavily on interviews about her. The film begins to fetishize her mystery. Some reviewers have ethical qualms with that. It doesn't really bother me (as far as I'm concerned, when you die you forfeit your life to the world), but I do think it impacts the quality of the film. Because they discuss not Vivian Maier as an artist, but Vivian Maier as a person, and even then they can only latch on to artifacts and empty conjecture.

Still, I can't help but like the energy behind the film, the filmmaker who fights so hard to share what he's found, who proves to be so resourceful, and who manages to get this work out there -- regardless of what Maier might have thought of that.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by JediMoonShyne » Sat Oct 11, 2014 10:28 pm

Macrology wrote:The film begins to fetishize her mystery.
Yeah, this part bothered me initially. But then, so does the fact that so many (including this guy) have made money off her work...
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Sat Oct 11, 2014 10:52 pm

True, but he also dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort to making this work available. And it could be argued that this material should have been kept private, but how can you find a vast collection of remarkable photographs and continue to keep them hidden? You'd be suppressing compelling art on the off-chance that some dead person wanted it that way. Maier made no legal provisions for her work, as far as I can tell, so they don't belong to her anymore. Simple as that. It's not like there's any way he can share his profits with her, and she left no one behind. He took advantage of the situation, but I don't regard that as morally questionable. He was enterprising.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by JediMoonShyne » Sat Oct 11, 2014 11:06 pm

Certainly, we're better off having been exposed to her work, but the motivations are always questionable. I refuse to believe that Maloof's seeking out of all the other Maier material was solely driven by his own personal curiosity, for example. He had to know that it would be profitable to invest in, otherwise he wouldn't have taken such a financial risk. Shouldn't work of this cultural significance be handed over to some kind of authority? Another thing that struck me as important, watching these documentaries: that we are viewing the work as it is presented, rather than as it is in its original state. One of the few people interviewed for both docs, photographer Joel Meyerowitz, actually points out that he typically avoids this kind of stuff because it is always presented in a way that gallery owners want you to see it.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Sat Oct 11, 2014 11:36 pm

I agree. And of course Maloof made the documentary, which gives him the ability to reveal information very selectively.

(I'll be posting some of Meyerowitz's work later on down the line, incidentally.)
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Sun Oct 12, 2014 12:22 am

Image

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Constantine Manos. Florida. Daytona Beach. 1997.

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I'd like to say that I chose this picture for its angular composition and its overwhelming use of blue, but clearly the jean thong is the star of this show.

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Re: Learning to See

Post by Quite-Gone Genie » Sun Oct 12, 2014 1:37 am

Image

William Albert Allard. Cloud 9. Elko, Nevada. 1979
I've always liked how the bar's name reflected in the window gives the image a wraparound quality, and one can imagine this dark and dreamy neon corner of the high desert is a self-contained universe where it's always last call.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Kayden Kross » Sun Oct 12, 2014 5:02 am

These last two are great, they're like America in a nutshell. Neon, booze, tans, cars, tacky clothes, and garbage cans.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Sun Oct 12, 2014 11:31 pm

Image

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Constantine Manos. Boston, Massachusetts. Charles Munch conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra. 1958.

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(I love that Allard photo, Genie. I haven't seen any of his other work, so I'll have to check some of it out.)

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Re: Learning to See

Post by MrCarmady » Mon Oct 13, 2014 7:15 am

reminds me of pas de deux for some reason, beautiful stuff
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Mon Oct 13, 2014 11:44 pm

Image

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Constantine Manos. Provincetown, Massachusetts. 1998.

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There's so much going on here I hardly know what to say.

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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Tue Oct 14, 2014 11:15 pm

Image

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Timothy H O'Sullivan. A Harvest of Death. Gettysburg. Pennsylvania. July 1863.

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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:30 pm

Image

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Irene Suchocki. Ordinary Silence. Iceland. June 2013.

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Re: Learning to See

Post by Gort » Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:30 am

Macrology wrote:
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Timothy H O'Sullivan. A Harvest of Death. Gettysburg. Pennsylvania. July 1863.

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This photo reminds me of one of the ideas in Roland Barthes' book, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography.
Roland Barthes wrote:And the person or thing photographed is the target, the referent, a kind of little simulacrum, any eidolon emitted by the object, which I should like to call the Spectrum of the Photograph, because this word retains, through its root, a relation to "spectacle" and adds to it that rather terrible thing which is there in every photograph: the return of the dead.
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And there is a lot more pond scum in the world than there is cream.
If you become rich and powerful, I hope that you will be cream rather than pond scum." --YTMN

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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Thu Oct 16, 2014 3:09 am

I read Camera Lucida in undergrad for a class called Visual Language (tracing the evolution of visual semiotics from the printing press to photography, cinema, and digital media). That was my freshman year and I think it was a little too sophisticated for me, so I'd like to read it again in correlation with this thread. But it's in my hometown at my parents' place, so I'll have to grab it next time I visit them.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Gort » Fri Oct 17, 2014 12:17 am

Macrology wrote:I read Camera Lucida in undergrad for a class called Visual Language (tracing the evolution of visual semiotics from the printing press to photography, cinema, and digital media). That was my freshman year and I think it was a little too sophisticated for me, so I'd like to read it again in correlation with this thread. But it's in my hometown at my parents' place, so I'll have to grab it next time I visit them.
My copy is in a box in the basement below my feet...where it has been for the past 12 years. But I really enjoyed reading it when I picked it up at a used book store in Memphis in the late 1990s.
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"The wealthy and powerful always remind us that cream rises to the top.
What they fail to acknowledge is that pond scum also rises to the top.
And there is a lot more pond scum in the world than there is cream.
If you become rich and powerful, I hope that you will be cream rather than pond scum." --YTMN

Rematch Resurrection Catalog for Rounds 1-4 New post 180721 -- YTMN's Remake Rematch Thread.
Thread Resurrected 21 Jul 2018. Thread abandoned 1 Aug 2017. Thread COMPLETE 25 May 14 (2d time!)


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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Fri Oct 17, 2014 12:47 am

Image

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Peter Marlow. Castleford. Castleford Rugby League Team. The Castleford team in the communal bath after winning the cup tie.

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A Magnum photographer. For more of his work, visit his Magnum profile - HERE.

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Re: Learning to See

Post by JediMoonShyne » Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:43 am

snapper's wet dream?
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Sat Oct 18, 2014 10:35 pm

Image

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Peter Marlow. Italy. Piemonte project. Racconigi Castello. Hunting trophies in the Attic. 2003.

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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Mon Oct 20, 2014 11:09 pm

Image

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Rodney Smith. Leaning House. Alberta, Canada. 2004.

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It's the figure in white framed in the doorway that brings this one home for me.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Wed Oct 22, 2014 12:47 am

Image

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Rodney Smith. Autoportrait.

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This self-portrait struck me because it reminded me of Hollis Frampton's Poetic Justice, which is literally just a filmed script lying on a table. But as the film cuts from page to page, you build an imaginary film in your mind in which you are a character. The playful trickery of this portrait -- where the photograph appears to be a mirror -- recalls that film's web of imagined images.
Watch Poetic Justice

It also vaguely recalls Magritte's The Son of Man.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:04 am

Image

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Alfredo Camisa. Sickle. Italy. 1955.

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It occurs to me that it's October, so maybe I should post some photos that are creepy. So when I can, I'll post the spookier photos I have stocked up.

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Re: Learning to See

Post by Gort » Fri Oct 24, 2014 2:58 am

Macrology wrote:
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Rodney Smith. Autoportrait.

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It also vaguely recalls Magritte's The Son of Man..
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I was going to write about that, but I'm glad I read your spoiler first, so I wouldn't embarrass myself. Don't assume that I knew the name of Magritte's work, just that it reminds me of his style.
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"The wealthy and powerful always remind us that cream rises to the top.
What they fail to acknowledge is that pond scum also rises to the top.
And there is a lot more pond scum in the world than there is cream.
If you become rich and powerful, I hope that you will be cream rather than pond scum." --YTMN

Rematch Resurrection Catalog for Rounds 1-4 New post 180721 -- YTMN's Remake Rematch Thread.
Thread Resurrected 21 Jul 2018. Thread abandoned 1 Aug 2017. Thread COMPLETE 25 May 14 (2d time!)


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Re: Learning to See

Post by Kayden Kross » Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:01 pm

Sickles are pretty much the most sinister tool ever.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:46 am

Image

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Alfredo Camisa. Inverno. 1956.

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These are the only two photographs I have by Camisa, but I dig their super-high contrast black and white.

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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Sun Oct 26, 2014 1:14 am

Image

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Melanie Einzig. First Avenue. New York. 2004.

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Without seeing her face, without being told a thing about her, one knows so much: from her brash foot propped up on the table (the heel unbuckled), from her exposed bra strap, from her red and white outfit. Is she crying? Probably. When she cries, she wants people to know she's crying.

Melanie Einzig's Website
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Kayden Kross » Sun Oct 26, 2014 2:46 am

Is that a nurse hat?
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Sun Oct 26, 2014 2:57 am

Not sure. I assumed she was wearing a uniform for a diner. Something along these lines: http://costumeshopcomau.melbourneitwebs ... rms_8a.jpg
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Sun Oct 26, 2014 8:46 pm

Image

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Romualdas Rakauskas. Info Unknown.

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This one reminds me vividly of de Chirico. Empty space and a fractured composition heighten the sense of isolation and alienation.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Gort » Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:36 am

Cool photo if it's staged. Cooler still if it is a candid.
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What they fail to acknowledge is that pond scum also rises to the top.
And there is a lot more pond scum in the world than there is cream.
If you become rich and powerful, I hope that you will be cream rather than pond scum." --YTMN

Rematch Resurrection Catalog for Rounds 1-4 New post 180721 -- YTMN's Remake Rematch Thread.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Tue Oct 28, 2014 11:48 pm

Image

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Kálmándy Pap Ferenc. Les eaux usées. 1978.

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Re: Learning to See

Post by Gort » Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:27 am

Now, that one makes you tell yourself stories to explain what you're looking at!

Excellent.
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I had fun. Thanks for reading!

"The wealthy and powerful always remind us that cream rises to the top.
What they fail to acknowledge is that pond scum also rises to the top.
And there is a lot more pond scum in the world than there is cream.
If you become rich and powerful, I hope that you will be cream rather than pond scum." --YTMN

Rematch Resurrection Catalog for Rounds 1-4 New post 180721 -- YTMN's Remake Rematch Thread.
Thread Resurrected 21 Jul 2018. Thread abandoned 1 Aug 2017. Thread COMPLETE 25 May 14 (2d time!)


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Re: Learning to See

Post by The Last Baron » Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:45 am

That is one of the last juxtapositions I would have ever thought of.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:38 pm

Image

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Alejandro Guijarro. Momentum. 2010-2011.

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"I was in a classroom after a lecture and the caretaker was there, tidying the room. As he wiped the blackboard, this image revealed itself. The caretaker was the artist, even though he didn't have any artistic intentions, and the marks he left on the board make it look like a Cy Twombly or Jackson Pollock. I showed him the photograph afterwards and he was surprised he had created such a beautiful image."

My Best Shot

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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:17 am

Image

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Kenneth Josephson. Illinois. 1958.

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I love the way the broken windows echo the birds in flight, the way they match almost perfectly the shadow cast upon the pane below.
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Fri Oct 31, 2014 10:43 pm

Image

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Joel-Peter Witkin. Ars Moriendi.

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Happy Halloween!

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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Sun Nov 02, 2014 2:30 am

Image

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Joel-Peter Witkin. Title Unknown.

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Most of Witkin's work tends to veer toward the extravagantly macabre depicted within a dated aesthetic, one intended to unnerve, and it's often interesting but I tended to cull from his less obtrusive work.

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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Mon Nov 03, 2014 1:08 am

Image

Joel-Peter Witkin. Title Unknown.

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This one particularly resembles the work of New Orleans photographer E.J. Bellocq, who seems to be a major influence on Witkin's antiquated aesthetic. I'll be posting a good deal of his work eventually.

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Re: Learning to See

Post by MrCarmady » Mon Nov 03, 2014 2:34 am

speaking of bellocq, just saw pretty baby. it wasn't good. but you should write about it in your other thread anyway.
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Macrology
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Mon Nov 03, 2014 4:08 am

I wholly intend to (I plan to cross post in that thread when I post Bellocq's work here). I like the film (its sexual politics, its languid summery tone, its depiction of the city), in spite of its modest ambitions and problematic narrative inventions. Storyville is fascinating, and I intend to read and post from Al Rose's definitive historical account of the area as well .
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n. 1. Long and tedious talk without much substance; superfluity of words.
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Macrology
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:51 pm

Image

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Kenneth Josephson. Untitled (88-4-235) - from the series Books. 1988.

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Macrology
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Re: Learning to See

Post by Macrology » Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:54 am

Image

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Sally Mann. Candy Cigarette. 1989.

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The casual contempt in the girl's posture was compelling enough to capture my attention (especially when one learns it's a candy cigarette), but once you notice the kid on stilts in the background, it makes the picture altogether more strange and fascinating.

Sally Mann's website.
(Her work is strong all around, particularly the other portraits of her children and her chilling body farm photographs, which are even more vivid and immediate than Witkin's morbid work.)
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MrCarmady
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Re: Learning to See

Post by MrCarmady » Wed Nov 05, 2014 10:15 am

That's a wonderful one. Didn't someone on here have it as an av for a while?
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